Our honorary consul took some time out to talk with us in October about his role.
Moin Fudda is the Honorary Consul General in Pakistan, and has been in that role since 1990. This is his third visit to New Zealand.
The honorary consul network allows New Zealand to have a much larger offshore footprint than we could otherwise afford.
The honorary consuls make an important contribution to achieving New Zealand’s objectives with useful local networks, flying the flag for New Zealand and acting as a first point of contact for New Zealanders and people enquiring about New Zealand.
Last week’s programme was a pilot for 20 New Zealand honorary consuls from the Middle East, Europe, America, Latin America, Asia regions, plus Australia. The honorary consuls were in Wellington from 21 to 23 October and then in Auckland from 24 to 25 October.
On the back of a refresh and expansion of the honorary consul network, the programme provided an opportunity to inform and engage with participants about New Zealand’s economic framework, the Government’s Business Growth Agenda, and to meet with key business units and colleagues in the Ministry.
I was the country manager of the NZ Insurance in Pakistan, in 1988. And it was in 1989 that the New Zealand Government wanted to set up a trade office in Pakistan. At that time I was asked whether I would be willing to act as a trade representative. I recall there were only two New Zealand companies in Pakistan – one was the ANZ Bank, and the other was NZI. But within a year the trade volume doubled.
Then there was a trade mission (going to Iran, Pakistan and Turkey) led by Foreign Minister Mike Moore. And it so happened that the mission coincided with the French President’s visit to Pakistan. So the Government said it could not look after Mr Moore.
So I approached the Commerce Minister who agreed that as Mr Moore was both Commerce and Foreign Minister he agreed to look after him. So the visit went ahead. The visit was superb. He met the Prime Minister, trade went very well and as a result I was rewarded with the Hon Con position.
Yes, I have a high respect for New Zealand. Mainly because of the transparency, the good governance, and when we talk of the least corrupt country of the world – then one takes pride in it. So people call me ‘Mr New Zealand’. I really get pleasure from that. I think it is an excellent country to serve.
More importantly, I and my family have been here for holidays. This is a great country and we all enjoy it.
You know every alternate year we celebrate Waitangi Day in Pakistan. New Zealand celebrates when the High Commissioner travels from Iran – and about 400 people attend the function.
More importantly for me – I have seen eight high commissioners in the past 23 years and I’ve had great relationships with all those eight – and with their spouses also.
I also enjoy doing the consular work – there are about 25 New Zealanders in Pakistan and I enjoy looking after them – their passports, their consular affairs. There are maybe another 20 or so who are not registered, but I come across them when they want to renew their passports.
So I recall than when President Musharraf undertook his official visit to New Zealand in 2005 I was the managing director of the Karachi stock exchange, and the President asked what the three things he needs to do in New Zealand are.
So I told him – firstly look at the dairy industry – Pakistan needs a dairy industry revolution. And the other one is education. And he worked on both of them. We now have a dairy development company in Pakistan with more than 1,000 model farms and we have 150 PhD scholars in New Zealand. Finally – I told him he needed to take a few days holiday to see the country!
Sometimes there are challenging issues. In 1992 there was an issue with Dr John Steven who was kidnapped coming from Afghanistan to Pakistan. That was a challenge to get him released – and it was a threat to my life, but we managed to get him released. But there are other New Zealanders – there are climbers who head to K2. Some of them succeed, but unfortunately some don’t.
The other challenge is to increase the trade between the two countries. The Pakistan High Commission is here in Wellington, but in Pakistan I have the sole jurisdiction.
There are travel restrictions for Pakistan, so a challenge is to ensure New Zealand visitors do come in quietly, do their business and get the job done. And getting these people contacts, to help them get their business going can be challenging.
The New Zealand cricket team has had two tours to Pakistan. Looking after them is a challenge, mainly because they have to play in a third country now. But by and large the Pakistanis are receptive and friendly towards New Zealand. Obviously this is built around sport – like cricket and squash.
When you want to learn about Pakistan – don’t read the newspapers. Or don’t look at the international media. Contact the local people and get to know the country. It is a vast country of 180 million people – we are faced with challenges across the border in Afghanistan and other areas – but you know there is a thriving economy that offers a lot of opportunities.
My message is – study Pakistan more deeply – undertake visits, and yes, it is a challenging environment, but Pakistan is a friendly environment for New Zealand.
It was very touching welcome we received. It was an outstanding welcome. I think New Zealand has a lot to offer. And I want to note that 2 years ago when I looked at Trip Advisor – I saw that the two most recommended places in the world were Queenstown and Milford Sound. And not many New Zealanders know that – that you are so highly rated. Personally, I have visited 88 countries of the world, and would rank Queenstown as the number one city.